WHITE BAL­ANCE

AS THE WEATHER WARMS, IT’S TIME TO TURN TO A TRUSTY WHITE. IN PAR­TIC­U­LAR, THE PROD­UCTS OF SHAW + SMITH ARE SURE-FIRE WIN­NERS

Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - Drink - WORDS BJ FO­LEY

Idon’t drink a lot of sau­vi­gnon blanc.

I strug­gle a bit with its flavour pro­file. Most are just too sweet, some too acidic and some just down­right smell like a tom­cat has taken a wee on a pas­sion­fruit vine.

How­ever, with the weather warm­ing I thought it would be a good op­por­tu­nity to go back and look at one of the few savvies that I will hap­pily reach for: the Shaw + Smith Ade­laide Hills sau­vi­gnon blanc, a wine that has con­sis­tently been Aus­tralia’s best homegrown savvy since it was re­leased.

Shaw + Smith be­gan in 1989 when, over lunch, cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith de­cided to re­alise a long-held dream to make wine to­gether and to make it with fruit ex­clu­sively from the Ade­laide Hills.

They orig­i­nally started mak­ing their fab­u­lous sav blanc, along with a cool­cli­mate shi­raz, and a ridicu­lously good sin­gle vine­yard chard called M3, with the fruit for the wine com­ing from a 42ha vine­yard at Wood­side, called the “M3 vine­yard”, which gained its name from the first let­ter of the three vine­yard own­ers’ names: Michael and Matthew Hill Smith and Martin Shaw.

Michael and Martin didn’t have any wine­mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties at the time, and would use the fa­cil­i­ties at Wirra Wirra and Pe­taluma un­til in 1999 when they pur­chased a 46ha prop­erty be­tween Bal­han­nah and Hah­n­dorf, in the Ade­laide Hills. Their new “Bal­han­nah” vine­yard be­came the site for their wine­mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties, cel­lar door/ tast­ing rooms and was quickly planted out with 35ha of vines, pre­dom­i­nantly with sau­vi­gnon blanc but also car­ries some close planted shi­raz and a small par­cel of pinot noir.

In 2012 they added a 20ha prop­erty at Lenswood to their hold­ings, a site that was planted in 1999 with pinot noir, chardon­nay and sau­vi­gnon blanc.

In 2011 the pair made a bold move and de­cided to step away from their orig­i­nal idea of only us­ing Ade­laide Hills’ fruit and pur­chased a vine­yard in Tas­ma­nia’s Coal River Val­ley.

The vine­yard had been es­tab­lished in 1988, planted out with chardon­nay and pinot noir. The fruit was of such ex­cep­tional qual­ity that it went into some of Aus­tralia’s most re­spected chard. The pair quickly made a com­mit­ment to re­spect the site, and de­cided to make a stand-alone la­bel called Tolpud­dle Vine­yard, named af­ter the Tolpud­dle Matyrs, a group of con­victs that were sent from Eng­land to work in Tas­ma­nia.

The wines un­der the la­bel are out­stand­ing and, while not cheap, show an ex­cep­tional abil­ity to age, mak­ing them ideal for col­lec­tors or those look­ing for wines to cel­e­brate a spe­cial year.

Both ranges can some­times be a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to lay your hands on, eas­i­est op­tion here would be your lo­cal favourite in­de­pen­dent bot­tleshop or on­line, tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to stock up for Christ­mas.

SHAW + SMITH SAU­VI­GNON BLANC 2017

This is the 28th vin­tage for what is, un­doubt­edly, Aus­tralia’s finest sauv blanc, and from first sniff you can tell why. Pick a trop­i­cal fruit and you can smell it in the glass, from sour­sop through to ly­chee and rambu­tan, per­fect as an aper­i­tif, bet­ter by the pool in the com­ing months. RRP $27 about $25 in­store.

SHAW + SMITH LENSWOOD CHARDON­NAY 2015

This could well end up go­ing down as one of the best chardies of the decade. White stone fruits in the glass, with some soft spice and a light flinty char­ac­ter. On the tongue it’s crisp and pre­cise, those stone fruits show­ing through with light al­mond meal and a lit­tle clot­ted cream. The oak han­dling is oh-so-per­fect. Will cel­lar well for the next 10-15 years, too.

TOLPUD­DLE VINE­YARD PINOT NOIR 2016

Another stun­ner for the Tassie win­ery, gen­tle notes of crushed dry leaf and spices, light for­est floor with some sour cherry and beet­root leaf. It’s big and pow­er­ful with a con­cen­trated palate – I re­ally like this. More than enough go­ing on in the glass that this will work with food. It will carry about 10 years in the bot­tle and if you have the abil­ity it would be worth putting a few away to watch them de­velop.

TOLPUD­DLE VINE­YARD CHARDON­NAY 2015

A mas­ter­class in how an in­tense wine can still be del­i­cate; toasty brioche, spicy oak and white te peach on the nose, the palate is built around a core of acid and shows green ap­ple and cit­rus fruits/lemon curd. Will ben­e­fit from a few years in a cool, dark spot, too, cel­lar­ing for about 10 years from vin­tage year.

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